I think out of all the models I have built over the years, this model holds more meaning of what and what not to do. If you would indulge me, I would like to share my experience.

The model started life as a typical kit conversion project that I liked doing for FineScale Modeler magazine. I knew I wanted to do an early P-51B, that was one of the first P-51’s of the 4th Fighter Group ... but not Don Gentile’s ubiquitous “Shangri La.” Another 4th Fighter Group ace that I had read a lot about was James Goodson. He was known as the “King of the Strafers” because of his prowess with low level flying.

Major James Goodson in P-51B with Malcolm Hood
James Goodson seated in his first P-51B

I had seen photographs of him in his natural metal P-51B with a Malcolm hood but the only images that I saw of him in his first Mustang were close-ups that didn’t show the aircraft.  By some twist of fate, a local art gallery that specialized in aviation art was hosting Robert Taylor and a number of WWII Aces.  One of them was James Goodson.

Needless to say, I was there with his book in hand to collect an autograph and exchange a few words. A few days after the show, I contacted the gallery owner and asked if there was a way to address a request for information regarding his first P-51. She informed me that all the arrangements were handled through his son Jamie Goodson and she gave me his telephone number.

Tumult in the Clouds

I telephoned Jamie to explain who I was and what I was up to.  His immediate response was quite unexpected,

“Do you want to talk to my dad? ... He’s right here.”

Once I got over the surprise, I was able to carry on an intelligible half hour conversation with Colonel Goodson.  It ended with Jamie returning to the phone.  He told me that he could contact Bob Gilbert, his dad’s old crew chief, and see if he had any information.  In short order, I received a copy of the image below.  I was all set.

P51B James Goodson

At the time this model was started (1993), I had a pretty set structure for my modeling endeavors.  I had a regular Friday evening “O” scale model railroad group that kept me busy with a fair amount of homework building and painting rolling stock and motive power.  I usually had some sort of kit conversion project going that would eventually find its’ way into print.  And then a scratch built project.  In between, there would be the occasional quick kit build for the ceiling or armor shelf.  I had a pretty full dance card, but I had the time so I was living in tall cotton. Then one morning, I received a phone call from Bob Hayden at FineScale Modeler.

“I remember you mentioned you were working on a P-51B conversion ... I want that on the cover of our 50th D-Day Anniversary publication.”

“But Bob, it’s just in pieces ... how long would I have?”

“Three months”, was the reply.

Needless to say there was a very long pause. “Pieces” meant the fuselage and wing modifications were completed.  I had done the photoetch, so the cockpit, wheels and tires were constructed.  Up to that time, I had always avoided getting sucked into a deadline.  I had heeded the warning of a friend and elder statesman in the model railroading industry,

“Doc, the fastest way to ruin your hobby is by turning it into a profession.”

Three months later, living like Alvin York when he was trying to earn the money for a piece of “bottom-land”, mostly on three hours of sleep every night, the model was completed on time.

P-51B Mustang 1/32 Scale

This model was completed prior to the advent of digital photography. It is presented in the original form as it appeared in FineScale Modeler special "Modeling the Second World War. Also included is some additional material that was not in the original article.

P-51B Mustang Conversion Budzik Magazine Cover

Sometime after the model was completed, I received a letter from Jamie Goodson asking permission to use images of the model.  Of course ... I was flattered.  Much to my surprise, Colonel Goodson’s book “Tumult in the Clouds” was reprinted in paperback and a small image of the model appeared on the cover along with a complete image inside with the caption: “A brand new P-51 B fresh out of the paint shop.”

Tumult in the Clouds

Many years later, in the fall of 2017, while traveling in Italy, I had a most touching and rewarding experience that I described in the message below:

Final Thoughts

This article rewarded me with the opportunity to add a bit to the history base and honor the service of Colonel James Goodson.  It rewarded me years later with a validation of my efforts by providing some meaningful inspiration for a future artist half way around the world.

And although the process was a negative experience, doing that article taught me that real creativity and deadlines don’t mix.  They have far different objectives.  Deadlines are concerned with business, recognition, participation, obligation and all things that remove, or interfere with a genuine connection to the energy of personal expression ... and an individual’s connection with the mystery of creation.  Deadlines and obligations are not a space I care to enter when I wish to enjoy my modeling experience and connect with something far more meaningful.

Harry, you were right.